Tuesday, July 22, 2014

NJ Decarceration Act Initial Draft Proposal Provided to Sen. Rice

In response to a letter to NJ Sen. Ron Rice who represents the Essex County District and chairs NJ's Legislative Black Caucus calling for introduction of a NJ Decarceration Act, Sen. Rice met with the Committee to Decarcerate the Garden State.  He expressed his openness to the proposed bill and suggested to our committee that we provide an initial draft of such a bill.  Below is the initial draft as provided to Sen. Rice late in the evening on July 22,

On line petition:

Print and circulate petition from this link:


NJ Decarceration Act Initial Draft

Whereas: United States has the world’s highest incarceration rate and incarcerates 25% of the worlds incarcerated while only making up 6% of the world’s population;

Whereas: There are growing calls in NJ for decarceration measures across the political spectrum in the interest of cost savings as well as human rights;

Whereas: There is an outcry from the Newark community and in Essex County in the form of community meetings, forums, petitions and letters calling for action to address the crisis of mass incarceration;

Whereas: The rates of recidivism and the violence and abuse many of those who are incarcerated are subject to, both institutional as well as at the hands of other incarcerated inmates, demonstrates the diminished success of the correctional system;

Whereas: NJ holds over 20,000 incarcerated persons in NJ state prisons;

Whereas: There are severe racial disparities among those incarcerated in NJ with Black  people representing 60% of the NJ incarcerated persons;

Whereas the disproportionate incarceration of NJ’s Black population is directly linked to economic disparities as well as racism in policing, prosecution and sentencing;

Whereas: Economic conditions including joblessness and sub-livable wages increases the propensity toward non-violent criminal acts of economic survival;

Whereas: Mass incarceration undermines the family of targeted communities by removing adult members that are needed for parenting and mentoring;
Whereas: A child who has an incarcerated parent, has a 1/3 chance increased likelihood they will have interaction with the criminal justice system;

Whereas: Mass incarceration undermines the political power of targeted communities by making it impossible for the incarcerated to vote and to participate in community organizations that advocate for the betterment of the community and volunteer to help the youth, elderly, those with disabilities or otherwise those needing support;

Whereas: The political weakening of targeted communities makes it easier for corporations and powerful political organizations to exploit the resources of those communities for personal gain and against the best wishes of those communities;

Whereas: Mass incarceration undermines the targeted community economically by removing the young adults during their age of prime income generating potential;

Whereas: (percentage) of NJ state inmates are incarcerated for small scale non-violent drug and drug related offenses.

Whereas: The cost per person incarcerated is over $50,0000 per year;

Whereas: It has been amply demonstrated through studies that funds expended on creation of employment opportunities, re-entry support and incarceration prevention has a far greater effectiveness in preventing incarceratoin;

Therefore be it resolved: That we enact the NJ Decarceration Act introducting robust goals for decarceraton and defining timelines and criterion for large scale prison release.  Goals are as follows:
NJ’s incarcerated persons are to be reduced by 20% over the next 2 years and by 50% over next 4 years.

Be it further resolved: That the following criteria be utilized to free NJ’s state incarcerated persons:
* those incarcerated for non – violent simple drug possession charges and related arrest charges;
  • Those incarcerated for small-scale non-violent economic crimes of survival
  • Those sentenced to under 6 months prison time
  • Those sentenced to 1 year or less who have served 50% or more of their term
  • Those sentenced to over 1 year to 3 years who have served 70% of their term
  • Those sentenced to over 3 years to 5 years who have served 80% of their term
  • Those over the age of 60 who have served 80% of their term

Be it further resolved: That 100% of the savings from the cost of housing each decarcerated person freed be redirected to providing meaningful training and employment in tasks of building and rebuilding urban housing, infrastructure, clinics and other public projects and to support services for those that need them for successful re-entry into the community;

Be it further resolved that upon release, legal restrictions and discrimination in hiring, housing, education and other lingering penalties including financial burdens be removed to support greater potential success for each individual's community re-entry;

Be it further resolved: That any and all NJ restrictions on voting on those who are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated be removed and that voting be extended to those who are serving in NJ institutions and not restricted by federal statute;

Be it further resolved: That Monitoring and reporting be developed for such projects and services to assure effectiveness and transparency;

Be it further resolved that sufficient funding be provided to assure the realization of the decarceration as defined in this bill.


  1. Very nice. Because I have such strong feelings about the setup of children for future incarceration by the failure of schools and dearth of opportunities for healthy recreation I'd like the "100% of savings" part to mention that stuff. But basically a sound proposal for legislation.

  2. This is great. This is exactly what we need right here. What a way to put something together that goes completely against the Prison system and it all happens to be facts. Well put together.